The Karnataka High Court was on Wednesday informed by the government that the investigation officer probing the sedition case does not intend to conduct further interrogation/counseling of school children. The police have registered a case of sediton against two women and school management after a drama was enacted against the Citizenship Amendment Act, inside the Shaheen Education Society, Bidar.
Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi while opposing the petition filed seeking action against the police authorities for illegally interrogating minor students, said "The petitioners have gone by news reports which are not true. The investigating officer has carried out investigation without violating any norms, rules and regulations prescribed under the police manual or the Juvenile Justice Act."
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice P G M Patil, raised a question before the advocate general, saying "Is it the function of the police to counsel the children?. No training is given to police to counsel the children?."
To which Navadgi replied " The term used under the Juvenile Justice Act is counselling, which the officer has used. Statements of seven children who participated in the drama and 10 students who watched it have been recorded by the investigating officer. At that time he was in civil dress and district Child protection officer and special juvenile police unit, member were present."
The objection filed by the police states that "On January 28, 2020, the investigating officer along with child protection officer namely Gourishankar and Special Juvenile police unit member, namely Jagadevi, were made to enter the visiting room and three children, were produced along with their teacher and one parent of the three children. The videographer who was a police constable was in uniform, he was called upon by others to change their uniforms and enter the visiting room in civil dress."
The objection also stated that Dr Jayashree, Member of Karnataka State Child Rights Protection Commission, visited the school and also counselled with student and staff and also interrogated the investigating officer and also Superintendent of Police, it was opined by her that there was no violation of any rules and regulations.
The bench while posting the case for further hearing on March 9, directed the petitioners to file their rejoinders, to the statement of objection, by March 6.
The plea filed by lawyer Nayana Jyothi Jhawar and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring states that about 85 children, some as young as 9 years of age, were subjected to police interrogation. This made the environment very hostile and affected the children' mental psychology.
Students of the Shaheen Education Society belonging to classes 4, 5 and 6 had staged a play on the CAA and NRC, last month. Following that an FIR was registered at the Bidar New Town police station, against the school authorities for performing "anti-national activities" and "spreading negative opinion" about Parliamentary laws, based on a complaint by activist Nilesh Rakshala.
Pursuant to the FIR, the headmistress of the school, as well as a parent of a child, was arrested. They have been recently released on bail.
Click Here To Download Statement of Objection